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Book Banning is Stupid

December 25, 2014

Brought on because of this article.

The following was a post on my Fan Page. While the article referes to specific book bans, I attempted to address how banning in general is bad for society, and completely stupid. A fan replied, which spurred me to think deeper on the subject and expand my original opinion. You may or may not agree with the actions of this law, but I am attempting to show how banning books is harmful to society, even if society as a whole disagrees with certain books. Ideas shouldn’t be banned; they should be confronted, and debated, but not banned outright. Comments are of course welcome.

While reading this, keep in mind “books” is the focus, because it was the nucleation of this blog. All forms of media and communication can be included, movies, comics, news etc… There is also a case to be made for moderation on private message boards, to stop spam, uncivil discussion, or even death threats. I’m still loath to delete such things (except spam, unless funny it’s just annoying), because at the very least they reveal the thought process of the poster. Only personal private data, Doxxing is alwayse a “no go” for me. Threats, hate speech, while vile, reveal must of the poster, and of the difficulties we must face in society. Better we know such things exist, than keep them hidden and live in ignorance.

Book banning, because tying wool over our kids eyes and telling them don’t look is the best way to raise an informed populous.

Some books are shit, some books have faulty info, and some just have bad theories. These theories may not be entirely faulty, they simply aren’t fully flushed out, or come to incorrect conclusions. Worse, there are books that intentionally mislead, these could be for political, religious, or social reasons, as well as for profit.

The cure isn’t book banning, it’s alwayse more books. If you disagree with the subject matter, write a book of your own. Refute their points. Don’t ban it because it makes you uncomfortable.

If it is fiction and you don’t like its contents, write fiction you do like, and try to win over the potential audience. Hook them on your brand of storytelling and they might not notice the other book. There will be those who do, but that’s not a bad thing. The more readers in a society the more society flourishes. Even if they are reading things you disagree with. At the very least reading sharpens the mind. Sharp minds can tackle problems, understand the world around them.

Reading is how we grow! We can explore worlds, ideas, emotions, morals, all different than our own. Books expose us to the thoughts and ideas/ideals of those that differ from us.

Banning books is never the right thing.

The following is a post from a fan which caused me to think more deeply upon this subject. I’d like to thank Dan, I love when someone can send me down the rabbit hole of thought.

Dan Right: “Accurate information shared with individuals capable of critical thinking and the ability to network is the most powerful weapon of all . So false or misleading information given to a passive society driven by the need to live vicariously through other people’s success and failures is genius to weaken a nation .”

What Follows is my reply. It might wander a tad, but it was stream of thought. I’ve only gone back through, and flushed out some ideas, and corrected spelling. Large thumbs and a touch screen phone don’t pair well.

That cuts close to propaganda and indoctrination. For that to work texts that go against the accepted group think (right or wrong) would need to be banned. As dissenting information would cause problems.

In such a climate even critical thinkers would have trouble sussing out the truth. If they are surrounded by lies, they may know the truth is hidden, but know of no way to reach the truth. Worse, what if the lies are crafted well enough, then even critical thinkers would strain to perceive the faults. Some of the best falsehoods are built upon a foundation of truth. If a population is given enough truths, and then lies are built upon them, it becomes hard for even keen minds to realize they are being lied to. When they begin to doubt the veracity of what they are being told, they fall back on the truths they know. Or rather their handlers remind them of the truth, and use that as a shield to defend the false information.

Not to mention in such a repressive society, critical thinking would become more and more rare. Books that foster such lines of inquiry would be the first banned. Any books that teach critical thinking would be modified or outright banned. Those that remain would be kept upon the fringes. Books that reinforce methods of inquiry that circle back to predetermined conclusions would be pushed to the forefront. The society would be built upon methods of teaching that mimic critical thinking, while in reality the “critical thinking” is hand holding. All leading to the conclusions the society holds to be true.

One can know they are lied to, but not knowing the truth, or where to begin looking for it. Such conditions would cause cognitive dissonance in the critical mind. Their neighbors would shun them. Then the social need for acceptance would kick in at an early age and lull the critical mind into a state of such torpor that the mind might as well become catatonic. If you’re the only one who knows the world is a lie, how do you prove it? How do you survive? You’d not only fail to fit in with your compatriots, you might just stick out as a nail that needs to be hammered back in place. On top of that your daily dose of “education” reinforces the lies. It can become easy to believe them, or at least pretend to do so for survival.

For these reasons books shouldn’t be banned. Even books with faulty knowledge act as a whet stone for the critical mind. Explaining why they are faulty challenges the mind. In some forms of debate you must prove the other side wrong. To do so, you must not only know why your side is correct, but how the other side is wrong. You must also know the weak points in your argument, and the strong points in the opposing argument. Simply defending your own stance strengthens the grounding and knowledge you have on the subject. This has its dangers of course. You can defend your position so long, that when presented with an overwhelmingly powerful argument that you’re wrong, you have a hard time believing so. This is where seeing faulty and incorrect information on a regular basis comes in handy. If you see that others can be wrong, and it’s not the end of the world. You can accept that you will be wrong from time to time. If you’re never given the opportunity to see others corrected, you’ll never know how to accept correction yourself. So when presented with the possibility that you’re wrong, you’ll refuse the possibility outright. Thus you “double down on the crazy” as it were. You hold fast to your position out of desperation. You can’t accept or understand that you’re wrong. This is why bad information shouldn’t be banned. It should be available for individuals to see it’s possible and okay to be wrong.

If faulty books are banned, it starts down a road where only “acceptable” true information is available. While true, the narrative is controlled, which shapes the developing mind. A mind that develops in a controlled narrative is more malleable to the desired outcomes and thoughts. Even a critical mind, if subjected to this early enough, falls victim. If you’re never presented with the possibility that being incorrect is possible, you’ll never think you can be incorrect. You’ll then begin to believe what you’re told is correct, even when it isn’t.

There will alwayse be those who lack critical reasoning skills. They can be controlled with false information, or truths. Critical minds can be shaped with all truths, if the truths are controlled. It’s the presence of false information with truths that allows the critical mind to synthesize it’s own conclusions, and see when it is being driven to a desired conclusion.

The truth can be controlled. That’s how you can control a critical mind. Control what truths a critical mind sees, and it shapes the individual. The conclusions they begin to draw are foregone, based on the controlled information. From there they lose the ability to think critically, and half truths can be used, gradually reaching full lies that they think are real.

You can control those who lack critical reasoning with the truth or lies. They will believe what you tell them. If you want to control those with critical reasoning skills, give them the truth. Control that truth, and then deny them access to false information. In the absence of false information, they will lose the ability to see the controlled truth.

This is the end of the original post, but the gears are turning.

There are other arguments to be made for not banning books. Books are the creative space in which humanity frolics. We can explore the full spectrum of emotions and actions all without any casualties. A talented writer can transport a reader anywhere, give them any emotion, sensation, and experience. A reader can explore their sexuality from the safety of their bedroom. Think on things that they may or may not be ready to try, all without putting themselves in harm’s way. We can experience the elation of sky diving, the fear of running for our lives from some unknowable monster, or a real monsters among humanity. We can even explore the darker aspects of our psyche. We can see through the eyes of a killer, a terrorist, or even a rapist. We can experience those emotions, and not commit the crime. We can even explore the emotions of the victim, all without being harmed. Readers gain empathy and sympathy for those around them. Whether fiction, or a memoir, we can place ourselves in the mind, body and spirit of a victim of abuse, rape, war, starvation. It will never be the same, akin to comparing a candle to the sun. Candles can burn bright, and their light can help us understand others.

Don’t ban books that contain images and ideas you find abhorrent. Write your own books. If you find certain sexual practices unseemly, write a book that shows us your emotional and moral objections. We all know murder and rape are wrong, but these are abstract concepts. Write a book from the perspective of the victim; let us experience the suffering a victim goes though. Once experienced, we will carry a shadow of those emotions with us. Not only will we have sympathy for the victims, we will be more likely to advocate on their behalf, or take steps to stop future victims from living through those horrors.

If you feel sex and drugs destroys a person. Write a book that shows the life of an individual afflicted with that which you think dangerous. Take the reader on a journey, show them the pain and suffering. They may just think twice when it comes to their life.

If you think certain genre books are dangerous for children (fantasy, magic, etc…), write books they will find equally enjoyable, yet deal with subjects you don’t find dangerous. You won’t stop them from reading the other books, but you will give them your books as options.

Don’t advocate banning books you disagree with. Write books you do agree with. Write books from your perspective or with ideals you hold true. The worst that will happen is you’ll get a few bad reviews. If you ban books however, down that road you not only create a sub culture that chases after the taboo, you lead society down a path of decreased reasoning. A path that tells future generations that it’s okay to board up things that they don’t agree with. A path that tells future generations that they can control the way others think, by limiting what information they consume. A path that leads to those who don’t conform to the established group think being shunned, and worse attacked as aberrant, and dangerous.

The examples I gave of “negative” books were culled from the type of books and subjects I hear being complained about or banned most often.


From → What I think

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